September 2006

Savage Milano Is a Best Buy Among 28 Gauge Over/Unders

Mainly on price, Savage’s new Milano shotgun line wins this battle against Browning’s newest stackbarrel, the 525 Field, and Ruger’s venerable Red Label, but all three are winners.

For the serious shotgunner, the 12 gauge is the workhorse for whatever job is at hand, whether skeet and trap, sporting clays, or the majority of hunting applications. Yet the 28 gauge remains a favorite as an alternate gauge, and there’s good reason for this.

The 28 gauge patterns about as well and consistently as the 12 gauge, albeit without quite as many pellets, so it makes an excellent target choice. And because the gauge offers reduced recoil and guns come in lighter and smaller configurations, it’s an almost perfect choice to introduce children, women, and any generally nervous beginner to the shooting sports. It’s also suitable for bird hunting, although, naturally, at somewhat reduced ranges compared to the 12 gauge.

When Browning introduced the $2,050 525 Field No. 013085813 in 28 gauge, and then we heard that Savage was introducing a new over/under shotgun line dubbed the Milano, one of which was a $1,433 28 gauge, we wanted to see how the new entries fared against an established 28 gauge from Ruger, the Red Label No. KRL-2827BR with the straight "English" stock, $1,702.

We put the guns to the test on several sporting clays ranges, stretching from moderately easy to fairly challenging courses. We also shot them standing at 40 yards as measured by a Bushnell rangefinder (as if for patterning) and from the Shooter’s Ridge Steady Rest on Midway USA’s MTM portable shooting bench for point-of-impact tests on the National Target Company’s shotgun patterning target (all proved accurately regulated). Trigger pulls were measured by an RCBS trigger pull gauge provided by Midway USA.

Here’s what we liked and didn’t like about the trio:

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